Mining Much Closer To Being Regulated, Studied In County

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December 30, 1990|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

After studying the impact of quarrying and stopping some development in mineral-rich areas, the county came closer this year to developing a plan to regulate mining.

By next summer, the county expects to complete a mining plan to help deal with expansions planned by three quarry companies in the Wakefield Valley area.

One of the companies -- Lehigh Portland Cement Co. -- received permission last fall to mine land off Route 31 in New Windsor.

Efforts by the Arundel Corp. to develop a quarry in Medford remain mired in state courts.

Genstar Stone Products Co. is talking with county planners about expanding its operation in Medford.

After residents in west-central Carroll expressed concern in recent years about the impact of quarrying on a growing residential area, the county requested a study on the impact of mining on the economy and the environment.

The report, called the Wakefield Valley Study Report, was released in July, prompting county planners to begin work on a mineral mining plan that will survey existing conditions, develop goals for the area and formulate laws to implement the plan.

The plan should be finished by August, said K. Marlene Conaway, planning department bureau chief.

Until it is, development in the Wakefield Valley area will be limited.

In November, the County Commissioners passed a law that prohibits further subdivision and mining expansion in the area. Landowners, however, will be able to obtain building permits on land that's already been subdivided.

Quarrying also was an issue in the General Assembly, but two county delegates weren't successful with legislation that would have made quarry companies liable for damages to surrounding property and water supplies with in one mile of their operations.

Mining lobbyists objected strongly to the bill, as they did when similar measures were introduced in the previous two sessions.

The House Environmental Matters Committee killed those bill and another one sponsored by Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, that would have increased public participation in the mining permit hearing process.

In October, the county gave Lehigh permission to mine limestone on a portion of the land it owns in New Windsor. The company, which operates a cement plant in Union Bridge, plans to develop the 750-acre site gradually.

The planning commission OK'd a site plan for the initial phase, a 186-acre plot with a 66-acre quarry.

The Arundel Corp., which wants to open a quarry in the Wakefield Valley area, is waiting for its case to be heard before the state's highest court.

The company has been involved in a zoning dispute with the county over its plans for the past three years.

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